A Vancouver developer is upset that a CBC copyright complaint means he will have to remove his software from the Mac App Store.
Today (September 13), Cory Alder of Davander Mobile went public about his fight with Canada’s public broadcaster, detailing his side of the story on his blog.
In August, Alder released his third-party CBC Radio Player in Apple’s desktop-app store. The $2.99 app allows users to easily listen to audio streams from CBC radio stations across Canada.
Later that month, Apple notified Alder that the CBC had filed a copyright and trademark infringement complaint against his app. In response, Alder revised his app, renaming it as Canadian Radio Player and removing the CBC logo. According to Alder, Apple then let him know that CBC was still claiming infringement.
On his blog, Alder has posted an email exchange, in which the developer threatens to publicize the dispute if CBC doesn’t withdraw its complaint. In a September 9 email to CBC legal counsel Dan Ciraco, Alder wrote:
I don’t think “CBC lawyers bully small software developer” is the kind of message you want to be sending.
In addition, providing the public with ways to access CBC content is a MAJOR part of your corporate mandate, and this complaint is a direct contradiction of that mandate.
Three days later, Ciraco replied to Alder, noting that copyright infringement can lead to “costly consequences”, such as damages, fines, and even imprisonment. The lawyer stated:
To be clear, CBC objects to your use, repackaging, and sale of CBC’s marks and radio content without authority. Therefore, notwithstanding your threats to go to the public with the false and defamatory statements noted in your email below, CBC will not withdraw its complaint. CBC treats trademark and copyright infringement as a serious matter. As such, CBC makes every effort to ensure its intellectual property is protected and it pursues any possible cases of improper use.
On his blog, Alder argues his app is being falsely characterized, as it is “essentially a radio receiver”. He wrote:
My app does not contain, package, or distribute any CBC content. It downloads a list of radio stream URLs published on the CBC website, and then plays those streams at the users request. What part of that is infringing? The stream URLs can be accessed with any web browser, the streams can be played by any media player. If my app is infringing, so are iTunes, Windows Media Player, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Firefox. So is your car radio, for that matter.
Technical concerns aside, CBC is in the business of making their radio content available to all Canadians. It’s in their mandate. These streams are currently easily available to anyone with Adobe Flash Player, an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. Why should they stomp on an independent developer trying to expand the ways to listen, and who does that serve? It’s a lose-lose-lose proposition for the CBC, listeners, and developers.
Alder says he will soon be forced to withdraw his product from the app store. But he’s hoping that the publicity his case receives will result in the CBC reconsidering its Internet-streaming policies and allowing “listeners decide how they want to listen”.